The first thing my three-year-old son said as we entered Sasana Kijang was “Wow, this place looks fresh!” The impressive glass and steel structure which allows the free flow of natural light does indeed give the place a very ‘fresh’ and welcoming feel. Sasana Kijang was established by Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank) in 2011 as the centre of excellence in learning and knowledge, and this is where the Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Gallery is housed.
The purpose of the Museum is to educate the public on Malaysia’s economy and economic history as well as the Central Bank’s role in the nation’s economic development. The folks at Bank Negara have managed to successfully turn a dry and dull topic (to me at least) into something fun and fascinating!
The museum comprises of six galleries; Children’s Gallery, Bank Negara Gallery, Islamic Finance Gallery, Numismatics Gallery, Economics Gallery and the Art Gallery.
Naturally, my son and my two-year-old daughter’s favourite section is the Children’s Gallery which you enter through a tunnel made out of Ringgit notes in various denominations, worth one million in total. The gallery is filled with interactive games and activities that teach you about the basic concept of money and the role of a bank. There’s a pretend play section where my daughter had fun acting as a bank teller and my son as her customer. The ‘bank’ even comes with an ATM which disperses money! (before you get excited, it’s fake of course) TIP: You can ask for the ‘ATM card’ at the info counter just outside the gallery.
Although the other galleries deal with more mature subjects, the interactive exhibitions made it highly enjoyable for my tots. The Bank Negara Gallery demonstrates the vital roles and responsibilities of the Central Bank in maintaining the country’s economic health. Pay attention to the exhibits and you will find yourself standing in front of a mountain of cash and gold bars! (fake too) One display that I found particularly interesting was the ballpoint pen used by Governor Tan Sri Muhammad bin Ibrahim to sign the latest RM50 banknote issued. Somehow I imagined it to be a lot fancier!
My space-obsessed son was mesmerised by the interactive globe in the Islamic Finance Gallery. The Gallery explores early Islamic concepts of commerce and finance which began in the Middle East and soon after influenced the entire world. I only just learnt that the number format we currently use originates from Arabic numerals.
The Economics Gallery gives an overview of Malaysia’s economic growth since the independence and also covers how economic policies affect the nation’s development and subsequently the global economy. I learnt more about economics in my short time here than I ever did in school!
Next, we explored the Numismatics Gallery which showcases the early history of money when objects of varying shapes and sizes were commonly accepted as currency within the region. My kids were most excited about the ‘Barter Trade’ game, although they weren’t really ‘winning’ at it. There’s also an extensive collection of both old and new banknotes from all over the world on display.
The Art Gallery houses beautiful paintings, by local and foreign artists, which I was informed are displayed on rotation. I didn’t dare to stay long as I was too worried my kids might poke at the exquisite (and expensive!) pieces or worse, pull them off the walls.
The gallery does host free arts and crafts programmes for kids, although we haven’t had a chance to participate as the recent ones conducted were catered for those six years and above. Check out their website and social media accounts for updates on this.
If you’re feeling peckish after your visit, there is a cafe on the ground floor by the Children’s Gallery. There is also a little souvenir shop for some great gifts.
The Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Gallery is open from 10 am – 6 pm daily and entrance to the galleries is free. Bags will be checked upon entry to the building and not allowed into the galleries. You can leave your bags at the lockers provided with a RM1 deposit.
The Museum is reachable by LRT (Bandaraya Station) or komuter service (Bank Negara Station) with a 10 minutes walking distance. Visitors may also drive and park at the basement with a RM5 fare per entry (free parking on public holidays/weekends).